Johannesburg: The African National Congress (ANC) has dispelled reports claiming that former South African president Nelson Mandela had passed away.
Rumours of Mandela’s “death” started circulating on social network site Twitter on Saturday, and were being punted as the “hottest news update now”.
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu labelled the rumours as “malicious and insensitive” to the Mandela family.
“The ANC strongly condemns individuals or groupings behind such a hoax, which is meant to create an atmosphere of panic and anxiety in the country,” News24 quoted ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu, as saying in a statement.
“It also goes against the African culture and tradition to claim that a living person is dead,” he added.
Mthembu also called on Twitter to investigate and find a way of stamping out the public misuse of the network.
Meanwhile, Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesperson Sello Hatang said that the 92-year-old Mandela was on holiday with his wife, Graca Machel.
Hatang asked that the couple’s privacy be respected.
Yesterday, Twitter users reacted with indignation to the hoax.
"Nelson Mandela didn`t die!! Who would make such a terrible lie," one user wrote. "Twitter has been the place for too many death jokes," another added.
Similar hoaxes on Twitter have targeted singer Aretha Franklin and actors Charlie Sheen, Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman.
After his withdrawal from public life in 2004, Mandela created the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children`s Fund and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation to continue humanitarian work on his behalf.
Mandela, South Africa`s first black president, is increasingly frail and has not appeared publicly since the closing ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg.